Day 5 – Introduction to Smart Parametric Objects – Brief Intro to Walls


In the early days of CAD, workflows were unforgiving, similar to manual drafting, where making any changes usually means erasing and redrawing. If you haven’t experienced erasing ink on mylar, yet, I highly recommend you give it a try. It will give you a new appreciation for CAD’s ease of editing.

The DOS versions of 3D Studio sported many parameters to help you create new objects, but editing them was not parametric. You had to erase and start over. Therefore, one of the features of truly parametric objects is the ability to allow you to edit using parameters.

Please know that if you’re learning CAD for the first time now, you’re doing so at a time, to use an automobile analogy, where the manual crank has been replaced by an electric starter and manual transmissions and clutches have been replaced by automatic transmissions. CAD programs out of the box will suit you fine, until you want to get into real racing. However, if your goal is simply to get from point A to B, you will be very happy. For stellar performance, you will need to learn how to Turbo Charge your CAD program.


One of the goals of modern CAD is to allow you to create a virtual reality version of the world so you can simulate and try things out digitally, in an environment that is quicker and cheaper, allowing you to try multiple design versions and fine tune the best options. To that end, programmers pump intelligence into the creation of objects by defining how they interact with themselves and other objects. In a way, programmers define the DNA, or instructions, so objects know how to behave realistically.


In the case of walls, this not only means that they carry parameters such as width, height, justification and so forth. They also carry other parameters so they know how to interact with other fellow walls, such as the STYLE and CLEANUP group parameters. Furthermore, they also know how to interact with other objects such as the doors, windows and openings to be covered in the next lecture session.

Walls know to automatically create void spaces when doors, windows and other openings are attached to them. They also have flexibility to be customized in many ways such as allowing their floor or roof lines to follow arbitrary adjacent floors, terrains, roofs or 3d objects. Finally, you can attach custom 3d solid geometry to walls to account for special conditions such as slanting planes, parapet caps, veneers or whatever else you might need to make your walls as realistic as an already constructed project.

As usual, my job to make your learning life easier consists of telling you what to pay attention to first, and what to postpone until later. To that end, please experiment with wall parameters and features in this order:

  1. Dimensioms Parameter: Width, Height, Justification
  2. General Parameters
  3. Advanced Parameters
  4. Styles / Families

    Basic Dimensions Parameters

    Focus on learning and mastering these parameters first

Most users will be happy creating their projects with either the stock Standard style, styles supplied with the program or created by an-in house CAD manager or Consulting Custom Content Creator.

Turbo Charge

If you want to become a Power User, stay tuned and watch the lecture on Custom Style Creation later in the semester. In the meantime, know that over 80% of your work will come not from creating custom content but by applying already defined styles or families.

Explore posts in the same categories: 3D BIM CAD

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